“Do I love her?—only as the means to my end! The end once gained, I shall hate her as I do him. But not yet,—and therefore must I love him as well as her. They shall be, to-day, my beloved children! To-morrow,—how shall I endure till to-morrow,—all the night through? O Gnulemah!—
“They love each other well,—seem made to make each other happy; yet have they come together from the ends of the earth to be each other’s curse! Only if I keep silence might it be otherwise, for love might tame the devil that I have bred in Gnulemah. Even now she seems more angel than devil!—Am I mad?”
He straightened himself in his chair, and glanced up towards the crevice whence slanted the dusty sunshine. The old robe took the opportunity to deliver its final warning.
“Not yet mad beyond remedy, Manetho; but you look up too seldom at the sunshine, and brood too often over your own dusty depths. You have had no consciously unselfish thought during the last quarter of a century. You eat, drink, and breathe only Manetho! This room is yours, because it is fullest of rubbish, and least looks out upon the glorious universe. Break down your walls! take broom in hand without delay! Proclaim at once the crime you meditate. Go! there is still sunshine in this dust-hole of yours, and more of heaven in every man than he himself dreams of. The sun is passing to the other side. Go while it shines!”
But Manetho’s dull ears heard not; and the aged garment of truth spoke no more.
It seems a pity that, with all imagination at our service, we should have to confine our excursions within so narrow a domain as this of Hiero Glyphic’s. One tires of the best society, uncondimented with an occasional foreign relish, even of doubtful digestibility. Barring this, it only remains to relieve somewhat the monotony of our food, by variety in the modes of dishing it up.
Balder had been no whit disconcerted at the priest’s abrupt evanishment. The divine sphere of Gnulemah had touched him with its sweet magnetism, and he was sensible of little beyond it. Their hands greeted like life-long friends. Drawing hers within his arm, he still kept hold of it, and her rounded shoulder softly pressed his, as they loitered out between the impenetrable sphinxes. The conservatory, however beautiful in itself and by association, was too small to hold their hearts at this moment. They passed on, and through the columns of the Moorish portico, into the fervent noon sunshine.
Grasshoppers chirped; fine buzzing flies darted swift circles and lit again; birds giggled and gossiped, bobbing and swinging among swaying boughs. Battalions of vast green trees stood grand in shadow-lakes of cooler green, their myriad leaves twinkling light and dark. Tender gleams of river topped the enamelled bank,—the further shore a slumbering El Dorado. The trees in the distant orchard wore bridal veils, and even Gnulemah’s breath was not much sweeter than theirs!